Last Updated on 26th September 2023

Once upon a time, chatting with friends outside of school meant using a landline. Playing games with pals involved knocking on their doors. Being bullied by other pupils was confined to school hours.

Now, the virtual world has created a 24/7 timeframe for children and young people to become the targets of cyberbullying. With phones in their pockets and consoles in their bedrooms, the idea of home being a ‘safe place’ away from school bullies is sadly of the past.

For Thomas, our story’s protagonist, bullying is invasive, invariable, and isolating. His teacher is willing to help and offers support, but is unaware that the bullying continues outside of the school gates.

Just like Thomas, many children and young people will have apps and games on their phone they’re not supposed to have. This can create a barrier. They might feel they can’t speak to a parent, teacher, or another trusted adult about online bullying in case they get in trouble.

It’s not just when children and young people are at home that cyberbullying happens. Nearly three out of four children who have been cyberbullied experienced some of it at school or during school time.

Illustration of a phone showing nasty comments
young male lying in bed on his phone

Top Tips

  • Be aware that bullying occurs both offline and online. By understanding how, when, and where bullying takes place, we can begin to tackle it.
  • Take the time to talk to the young person in your care and make sure you listen to them without interrupting. Use open questions to prompt when needed.
  • Banning access to online games and social media is usually not an effective solution. It can feel like a punishment for them. It may also discourage them from confiding in you about serious topics in the future.
  • Reassure them that you’re there for them and support them. Let them know it isn’t their fault and that they’ve done nothing wrong.
  • Be clear about what you’ll do next. They may be worried about escalation, so remind them you support them.
  • Ask if they feel like they need further support. This could be from you, another trusted adult, or a helpline like Childline.
  • Visit our Safety Centre to find out how to block, report, configure safety and privacy settings on a range of apps, sites, and games.

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Pause, Think and Plan

Guidance on how to talk to the children in your care about online risks.

Image of a collection of Safer Schools Resources in relation to the Home Learning Hub

What Are Your Words Worth

This activity pack is designed to prompt young people to think about the words they use online. The activities included will help them to reflect about comments they make on social media or gaming platforms and how those words may impact others. There is also a challenge included to make more #PostivePosts!

Parent talking to child about online safety

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